Solve this case: Who killed Kay Wenal?

The brutal murder of a former model in her Georgia home remains unsolved more than eight years later – can you help investigators find her killer?

Produced by Lisa Freed and Michelle Feuer

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. -- At the time of her murder, Kay Wenal was married to real estate developer Hal Wenal – her fourth husband. He was smitten from the moment he first set eyes on Kay in a Reno airport.

“She said she’d bent over to get luggage off the rack and that’s when Hal noticed her,” Kay’s sister, Pam Sleeper, told “48 Hours” correspondent Erin Moriarty. “How could you not?” she laughed.

Pam Sleeper says her sister was striking and vivacious. “Hal was proud of her,” she said.

“He used to love to walk into restaurants -- she was arm candy,” private investigator John Insogna said. “’Oh, look at that woman!  Wow!’”

Kay and Hal Wenal

Kay and Hal Wenal

Pam Sleeper

And at the age of 60, Kay was still turning heads and everyone seemed to love her, which made her murder in May 2008 all the more shocking -- and difficult to solve. 

What’s more, there is little physical evidence: crime scene investigators recorded video which reveals no fingerprints, footprints, defensive wounds, hairs or fibers. And all of the blood tested was Kay’s.

So three weeks after his wife’s death, Hal Wenal offered a reward that would grow to a quarter of a million dollars.

“He wanted to try to find out … who murdered Kay and he was willin’ to pay dearly to do it,” said Sleeper.

But when months went by without a real lead, the frustrated multimillionaire hired his own team of private investigators led by Ned Timmons.

“We want this guy.  We want this solved,” said Timmons.

Timmons, a retired FBI agent, recruited former colleagues -- his own ex-wife, Kathleen, and John Insogna.

“You know, when you get involved in this kinda work, you wanna have closure. You wanna bring ‘em to -- an end,” said Insogna.

“48 Hours” brought the private investigators together with retired Gwinnett County Police Lieutenant Charlie Bishop, who also worked on this case, to reexamine a murder that continues to haunt them all.

 “You wanna right the wrong.  Somebody is out there that took this lady’s life.  And it’s our job to try and find him,” Insogna said of the case he described as “puzzling and “frustrating.”

“So can this be solved?” Moriarty asked the group.

“Oh, I think it can,” Ned Timmons replied.

“We need that lucky break,” said Insogna.

Normally, “48 Hours” follows a murder case after an arrest has been made; not in this case.  This report is a true whodunit.  Maybe you know something that can solve this case.  

May 1, 2008, wasn’t a typical day for Kay Wenal.

“She woke up that morning with all the intentions of going to work,” said Insogna.

Usually, she was out finding tenants to fill her husband’s shopping centers.

“Then she changed her mind, says, ‘I don’t feel well,’” Insogna explained. “So whoever did this knew she was home.”

There are no signs of forced entry. So John Insogna believes Kay let her killer inside and was immediately assaulted at the front door. The proof, says Ned Timmons, is all that blood.

“And you can see by the -- the way the blood droplets hit, her back had to be there and he had to hit her with a very, very powerful blow back that stunned her,” Ned Timmons explained.

A punch that sent her glasses flying across the room.

“She probably realized, ‘I’m in trouble.’  And then … tried to escape,” Insogna reasoned.

“She flees to the kitchen, perhaps to get the phone,” Charlie Bishop explained. “There, he gets her.  And that’s where he takes control of her and kills her.”

The killer slashed her throat. What happened next shocked even veteran investigators.

“Then he decided to do what we call an insurance cut … a second cut,” said Ned Timmons. 

 … to make sure that she was gonna die,” Insogna added.

“I mean, that’s a cold-blooded killer,” Moriarty noted.

“Exactly right, yeah.  It really is,” said Insogna.

And Kay’s killer appeared to have carefully planned his attack.

“Nobody saw him coming in,” Insogna said. “Nobody saw him leave.”

Which makes what the killer left behind so puzzling: a towel with smudges of Kay’s blood was found in her closet, off the master bathroom.

“Why is he in there?” said Kathleen Timmons.

“It’s her closet.  Maybe he takes one final trophy,” said Ned Timmons.

“What are you looking for in that room?  It’s a big question,” said Kathleen.

This is what investigators do know:

THE WEAPON: AN EXTREMELY SHARP INSTRUMENT; HAS NEVER BEEN FOUND

“I think it might’ve been a scalpel or something like that,” said Insogna.

“It could’ve been a hunting or fishing knife,” Ned Timmons explained. “Whatever it was, it was extremely sharp.  It did not cause any jagged lacerations.” 

THE ASSAILANT: A RIGHT-HANDED MAN

“You all use ‘he.’  You believe a man did this?” Moriarty asked the group of investigators.

“Because of the strength that it took,” Ned Timmons replied. “I don’t see a woman cutting another woman’s throat like that.  I don’t … are there women that could do this?  Sure. …I don’t think it’s likely.  I think this was a man.”

A man John Insogna believes is right-handed.

“…because I think he hit her with his right and I think the way they -- the cuts were on her neck, they started from here to here,” he told Moriarty, mimicking his throat being slashed from left to right .”If he was left-handed, I think he would start here and go this way.” 

And he was probably wearing gloves. Pieces of a latex glove were found inside the house and on the back deck that didn’t match ones used by first responders.

“That also is confirmation that whoever did this came prepared.  I mean, who walks around with rubber gloves in their pocket?” Insogna reasoned.   

THE MOTIVE: UNKNOWN

Everyone agrees this was not a robbery.

“She had plenty of rings on,” said Ned Timmons. 

Kay’s wallet and credit cards were out in the open. Jewelry worth hundreds of thousands of dollars was locked in a safe upstairs.

“If this was some guy that came to rob her … wouldn’t he take the rings?  Wouldn’t he take somethin’?” Ned Timmons asked.

“The impressions that I got were that someone was very comfortable in that home, knew their way around that home,” Kathleen Timmons explained. “…and this person has no concern that anyone is going to walk in and catch him. …and then walks out the back door and departs.”

Investigators believe the killer made his escape through the woods behind the Wenal home.

“He clearly knew where he was going, too, when he left,” Kathleen Timmons said. “And that takes an awful lot of prior planning.”

But did he make a mistake?

MYSTERY MAN

Six days after Kay Wenal was murdered, her family and friends gathered to say goodbye. 

“It was packed … lots of people,” Pam Sleeper said of her sister’s funeral. “There was a lot of policemen there.”

Gwinnett County police took surveillance footage, searching the faces for suspects. Pam Sleeper was searching for answers.

“Do you think Kay had enemies?” Moriarty asked.

“I didn’t think she did, but apparently she did,” said Sleeper.

“Did she ever talk about having any fears?”

“No.”

“Anybody threatening her?”  Moriarty continued.

“No,” said Sleeper

“You had to wonder about Hal, didn’t you?” said Moriarty.

“No,” Sleeper replied. “It just never crossed my mind, ever.” 

But it certainly occurred to police to look at Kay’s husband.

“Hal was a suspect from day one,” said Ned Timmons.

Hal Wenal, however, appeared eager to cooperate, agreeing to a police interview in 2008, without his lawyer present.

Hal Wenal to investigator: To the best of my knowledge I will tell you everything I know.

As investigators discovered, he had an ironclad alibi.

“We knew Hal physically wasn’t there,” said Insogna.

“We have video of him leaving his office.  We have video of him going to a fast food restaurant,” Bishop explained. “All within the time we believe the murder took place.”

There was also no evidence Hal Wenal had hired anyone. What’s more, he seemed grief stricken by Kay’s death:

Hal Wenal to investigator: There are nights I wake up crying my heart out.  Middle of the night, like a child …it’s horrible. It’s really horrible. And especially if you don’t know why. 

“Hal wasn’t a part of this, in my opinion,” said Charlie Bishop.

“So you don’t believe he was involved,” said Moriarty.

“No,” he replied.

“But I think Hal was protecting the memory of Kay,” Insogna said. “The secret stuff, and he didn’t wanna divulge that, because it would reflect poorly -- on Kay.”

Secrets Kay didn’t even share with her sister.

“There was a whole lot, apparently, she didn’t talk to me about,” said Sleeper.

“And do you think somewhere in there is the clue to her killer?” Moriarty asked.

“Uh-huh,” she affirmed. “I sure do.”

“We have found … people have … three lives.  They have a public life, a private life, and a secret life,” said Insogna.

“Do you believe Kay Wenal had a secret life?” Moriarty asked.

“I believe she did, yes,” Insogna replied. “And that’s where I believe the answer lies.” 

Kay had a colorful past. As investigators discovered, she not only married a lot, she also had affairs.

“She needed to be loved.  And she needed to feel that she could attract any man,” Ned Timmons explained. “She was obsessed with this.”

In fact, Ned Timmons theorizes she may have been seeing someone at the time of her death.

“Hal knew her secret life,” he said.

“Hal was involved in the secret life, in my opinion,” Bishop concurred.

“Do you think he put up with her, then, having affairs just to keep her -- on his arm?” Moriarty asked.

“Absolutely,” Ned Timmons replied. “Absolutely.  Yeah.”

In a murder investigation, nothing is private. So the Wenal house was searched, and, according to John Insogna, more possible evidence of Kay’s secret life was uncovered.

“…material we found in the house, which would-- would not be normal,” said Insogna.

“In what way?” Moriarty asked.

“It was unusual.  Almost perverted,” he replied.

“Kinky?” Moriarty asked.

“Kinky.  Yes, kinky’s a good word,” said Insogna.

They found outfits detectives described as “fetish wear.”

“And when we talked to Hal about it, first he said, ‘No, I don’t know anything about that stuff.’  ‘Oh,’ and then the next time, ‘Oh, yeah, we went to a -- a masquerade party and she dressed like a French maid,’” said Insogna. 

Hal and Kay Wenal

Hal and Kay Wenal

Pam Sleeper

But the Halloween costume is tame compared to what else was in Kay’s closet. The list in police reports is X-rated.

“These outfits were not something a French maid would wear,” Insogna told Moriarty.  “… and if she’s not wearin’ them for Hal, then who’s she wearin’ ‘em for?

Hal Wenal to investigator: Kay was a beautiful woman. …if you came out and I’d line up 30 guys I know, they’d all tell you the same thing.  Any guy would fall in love with Kay in a minute.  

Asked if she believes Kay knew her killer, Pam Sleeper said, “I think she probably did.”

And cops do have one possible clue to his identity: a stranger seen in the neighborhood the very afternoon Kay was killed.

police sketch

Do you know this man? Anyone with information is asked to call the Gwinnett County Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division Anonymous Tip line at 770-513-5390 or Crime Stoppers Greater Atlanta: 404-577-TIPS (8477)

Gwinnett County Police Dept

A sketch was made with help from one of the Wenal’s neighbors, who told police he actually saw the same man twice: on the day of the murder and the day before.

“And he had a -- flyer for a house that was for sale in the subdivision,” Insogna said. “And the neighbor said, ‘Oh it’s way on the other side’ … and he just turned around and he walked away out of sight.”

The first encounter stood out to the neighbor because the stranger didn’t seem to have a car.

“Now, this is an area, you just don’t walk around in that neighborhood.  You-- you have to drive.  Nobody-- nobody walks,” Insogna explained.

Police later discovered that the “house for sale” flyer was only given to people who had been inside that house and there had been no showings on the day the stranger first appeared.

The following day, the same neighbor was looking out his bathroom window.

“And he sees the same guy, walking toward the Wenal’s house, right about the time they believe that the homicide occurred,” said Insogna.

“Do you think this person could be the killer?” Moriarty asked Gwinnett County Police Sergeant John Richter.

“I think it’s a strong possibility,” he replied. “But, obviously, we can’t say for 100 percent until we identify that person he saw. 

And for more than eight years, that’s exactly what Gwinnett County police have been trying to do.  Sergeant Richter took over the investigation in 2011. Lieutenant Steven Shaw is his supervisor.

“It’s a standard, you know, white male with wire-rimmed glasses that’s aging and starting to bald. … there are probably hundreds and hundreds of males walking around that look something like this,” Lt. Shaw said. “And we’ve, you know, obviously, explored Kay’s inner circle and -- and Hal’s circle and -- and all of their friends and acquaintances.” 

They checked out everyone from Kay’s doctor to a restaurant manager and even a clerk at the local Hobby Lobby store who had a crush on Kay.

“She said, ‘That’s the strangest thing he calls me and wants me to go for a drink with him,” said Sleeper.

Investigators have cleared and eliminated all three men.

They’re still trying to find the man pictured with Kay in a photo taken years earlier in Las Vegas, who seemed to resemble the sketch.  

sketch-combo-pic.jpg

A police sketch, left, and an unidentified man photographed with Kay Wenal

“Do you think that person is this person?’ Moriarty asked Sgt. Richter of the man in the photo and the man in the sketch.

“Well, I think it’s a possibility … that person -- seated next to Kay and with another female it -- it, for sure, could be him,” he replied.

“You don’t know whether he’s a suspect or not.  You just—” Moriarty noted to Charlie Bishop.

“I never could identify him,” the retired Gwinnett County Police lieutenant replied. “Nobody seemed to know who he was.”

As investigators were searching for the man in the sketch, Hal Wenal suggested that they should also look at a man in Kay’s past:

Hal Wenal to investigator: [Takes a deep breath] I have something in the back of my mind, I don’t even want to say it yet, but that was years and years ago.  The weirdest thing was – and I don’t even really like saying it is – her ex-husband.

Kay’s third husband, Jeff Gilbert:

Investigator: Was she still married to him when you two met?

Hal Wenal: When we met.  Absolutely.  Yes, she was.

Gilbert was running Bally’s Casino, where Kay was modeling, when Hal Wenal swept in and “stole” her away:

Hal Wenal: He threatened her when she was trying to leave.  I know that.

Investigator:  He loved her…

Hal Wenal:  But that’s what she told me, so.

“You don’t think that would make Jeff angry enough to wanna kill her?” Moriarty asked Sleeper.

“No,” she said. “No, never.”

But just a few months before Kay was killed,  Jeff Gilbert called. He was traveling to Atlanta, and wanted to see her and Hal:

Hal Wenal to investigator: …and I said, “Well, what are you going to do?” And she said, “I told him we’re not going.”  She said, “He’s livid about it.”

“We looked at him. Because an ex-husband is -- is, of course, on our suspect list.  But no indication that he was involved,” said Sgt. Richter.

“We don’t have any -- evidence, through airlines or phone records, and we looked into it, to indicate that he was in the Atlanta area,” he explained.

Then, nearly three months after Kay was killed, out of the blue, came the most tantalizing and perplexing clue of all.

“I was in shock.  I -- I didn’t know what to think,” said Sleeper.

ANOTHER CLUE

Hal Wenal:  I stand on that bridge on the second floor – I look down at that front door.  I say, “Kay, what happened here?  What really happened?

Investigator:  Whoever did this … did this because of one of two reasons – they’re very angry with her or they’re very angry with you. 

Hal Wenal: I’ve been in this game for 40 years. Who the hell kills your wife? Not even the Mafia does that. 

Hal Wenal

Hal Wenal

Pam Sleeper

Despite what Hal Wenal believed, cold case investigators Lt. Steven Shaw and Sgt. John Richter wonder if the killer could be connected in some way to Wenal’s business.

“We have to look at every option and every possibility … ‘til we figure out who did it,” said Sgt. Richter.

Back in 2008, Hal Wenal was the picture of wealth and success.

“He was the ultimate salesman,” said David Hughes, a contractor who built many of Hal’s shopping centers.

“He was all the time lookin’ for another deal,” Hughes said. “When he got one goin’, he was looking for another one.”

Like so many risk takers, Hal Wenal made and lost millions.

“At the time of Kay’s death, what kinda shape was his business in?” Moriarty asked Sgt. Richter.

“It’s hard to tell.  …on the face, it looks like they had a lotta money … However, after diggin’ into the case … it appears that it was maybe smoke and mirrors,” Sgt. John Richter explained. “We find out that maybe there was some fraud or some stuff that wasn’t always on the up and up.”

Hal Wenal made his fortune buying land, building shopping centers and then selling the malls -- fully leased -- for a profit. But according to Marie Lundquist, Wenal would sometimes cook the books.

“He wasn’t the most honest person in the world,” said Lundquist, who began working for Wenal in 2007, as his administrative assistant.

“We sold a shopping center in Lawrenceville … and the whole deal was bad,” she explained. “He was paying tenants’ rent … so when -- that when the new owners bought it -- the books looked like -- they were paying rent every month, when, in fact, Hal was paying their rent.  Some of ‘em.” 

Hal Wenal to investigator: I can say to you without reservation that I can’t even think of anybody.  We have tenants occasionally who fall out, but they don’t blame me. 

Yet “48 Hours” found six lawsuits filed against Hal Wenal and his various companies from people who did blame him, claiming fraud. But Wenal brushed it off.

Hal Wenal to investigator: If you don’t make any money, you never get sued for anything.  The minute you make a buck, people come after you.

“Do you think there’s any possibility that Kay’s death might have something to do with someone angry with Hal?” Moriarty asked Pam Sleeper.

“Yeah … because apparently, he -- owed a lot of people money,” she replied. “… and he didn’t make a lot of friends ... It could be a revenge thing.”

Kay’s sister wonders if an investor was angry enough to hire a professional killer, which could explain the lack of evidence at the crime scene.

“There was a lot of blood there. And how this guy got away without a footprint, a hand mark on the wall or anything, it’s just amazing,” said Sleeper.

But the idea of a professional hit doesn’t make sense to the investigators who have examined the case over the years.

“I think if it was [a] hired killer, it would’ve been -- with a gun.  No physical contact.  Just boom, boom,” John Insogna said. “Out the door, ‘see ya later, that’s it, I’m done.’”

“A gun -- yeah, a .22 or somethin’ to the back of the head,” Charlie Bishop agreed.

And what makes a hit man even more unlikely, they say, is what happened nearly three months after Kay was murdered. A peculiar letter arrived at the Gwinnett County offices of The Atlanta Journal Constitution. The letter wasn’t published back then, but it was given to the police.

“The police department wanted to meet with us,” Sleeper said. “…they showed us this letter. …cut out in little bitty individual different letters outta different magazines and … all glued into this page.  And it was shocking.” 

The envelope, postmarked July 21, 2008, had been mailed from Augusta, Ga., some 140 miles away from where Kay was murdered.

“Wow,” Insogna laughed. “It-- it-- I mean, it was bizarre, odd.”

The letter and envelope taken apart and carefully examined by the crime lab, but no DNA or other useful forensics were found.

“Whoever did this did it with -- with gloves on,” Insogna said.  “I mean, they cut each individual letters out and then glued ‘em.  So it was very time consuming to do that.”

“Do you know how hard that would be, to stick these things all on here with plastic gloves on?” said Kathleen Timmons.

“Oh, these are -- oh it’s incredible,” Insogna said. “I mean, this is really… I mean, just to go through the magazine—”

The letter is shocking, filled with expletives:

wenal-letter-gallery.jpg
Gwinnett County Police Dept.

I bet Kay Wenal never told anyone what she really was

It turns out she was just a $ grubbing w----e!

I loved her She said we could be together

She told me she hated her house and

That fat Miserable lying mother f-ing husband

She said She loved me But that was a lie too

I told her this would happen if she didn’t

Keep her goddamned promises to me

her F---ing family screwed Everything up Those white trash

assh---s  His money was more important than our love.

We could have been so happy together but

They f---ed everything up

On its face, it sounds likes the words of a jilted lover.

“If you look at the letter … if we’re gonna go with  the jilted lover theory -- that this person-- she finally told him … ‘No.  I’m stayin’ with Hal,’” said Bishop.

“In other words, did the family talk her into staying with Hal that irritated the actual perpetrator,” said Ned Timmons. 

But Pam Sleeper says Kay never mentioned any plans to leave Hal, although she admits parts of the letter have a ring of truth -- especially about the house they were renting.

“I know that she didn’t like her house. I mean, that was the first thing that stood out to me, was – wow,” Sleeper said. “I know she was kinda unhappy with Hal about that.”

“So it was someone who knew her?” Moriarty asked.

“Oh, yeah, apparently,” Sleeper replied.

Who would go to such trouble? Is the letter really what it appears to be?

“How many of you believe this was actually written by a spurned lover?” Moriarty asked the group of investigators.

“Based on the reading of it, yes, yes,” said Insogna.

“I don’t,” Kathleen Timmons replied.

“I do, because of the reference to the family, the house … things that wouldn’t be known to everybody,” said Ned Timmons.

“But those are exactly why it wouldn’t be a spurned lover.  A spurned lover doesn’t give a care about her house.  A spurned lover doesn’t give a care about her family,” Kathleen Timmons reasoned.

“It’s not a jilted lover. That’s a red herring,” said Bishop.

MORE QUESTIONS

The investigation into Kay Wenal’s death got new life when the letter arrived in July of 2008. It felt like something dreamed up by a Hollywood screenwriter.

“It’s what the author thinks threat letters should look like,” former FBI profiler Mary Ellen O’Toole explained. “This is almost scripted. …So you have to say, ‘What’s the purpose?’”

Mary Ellen O’Toole, who now heads the forensic science program at George Mason University, agreed to examine the letter for “48 Hours.”

“This is someone I think that’s pretending to be the killer,” she said, “…to create this boogeyman suspect and to push the police away from the actual motive in the case.

The writer may not be a jilted lover at all.

“From working cases like this, if this was a spurned lover, then this would not be the first note,” O’Toole explained. “A spurned lover is going to have notes preceding this one, where Kay is the most wonderful thing in the world, ‘I love you, we’re perfect together.’  Even if it’s a delusional stalker, initially they love their victims. They’re beautiful.  They’re gonna spend their life together.  It’s only after a few-- letters that you see that transition to, ‘You are now this horrible human being.  I hate you.’”

What’s more, the investigation hasn’t revealed any other men in Kay’s life, which is exactly what Hal Wenal told detectives in 2008:

Hal Wenal to investigator: As God is my judge, I don’t think Kay was having an affair or she had to be the best damn actress in the world.

Hal and Kay Wenal

Hal and Kay Wenal

Pam Sleeper

It turns out that while Kay was sexy and flirtatious, investigators may have been looking in the wrong direction. They didn’t find any evidence of an affair at the time of her murder and, Kathleen Timmons says, neither did the medical examiner.

“… and this letter that implies that she’s got yet an -- very active current lover,” she said. “And yet, when … they did the autopsy … she had no indication that -- that there had been recent sexual activity. …no indication that she’s involved with anybody, including her husband.”

“Do you believe that the person who sent this letter is actually the person who went into the home and killed her?” Moriarty asked O’Toole.

“Not necessarily,” she replied.

O’Toole suspects the killer may have had help.

“I think it’s possible that there are -- two people that could be involved. You could have somebody that wrote the letter and then someone that came into the home,” she said.

Mary Ellen O’Toole says writers of cut-and-paste notes tend to have one thing in common: they are women.

“I can tell you that that’s my experience,” she said. “I’ve seen them written by teenage girls. I’ve seen them written by middle-aged women. …But the behavior at the scene, just that kind of violence, certainly suggests to me a male offender.” 

If the profiler is right, that means a man and a woman could be involved in Kay’s death – with the woman creating the note to throw police off the trail.

“Someone may have been interviewed and they felt like they could’ve been considered a suspect, didn’t want that, and produced this note,” said O’Toole.

“I mean, isn’t this a very risky thing?” Moriarty asked.

“A terribly risky thing to do,” O’Toole replied.

O’Toole suggests taking another look at the people interviewed by police back in 2008. One of those people was a friend of Kay’s and Hal’s: Karen Scott.

“Karen worked for Hal and she promoted herself as Hal’s right-hand man,” Sgt. Richter said. “…and Karen was an obvious suspect of ours. Because she was close with Hal, both Hal and Kay.  …And in any investigation, you’re gonna start with who’s closest to them.”

So close, that when Scott remarried, it was Kay who gave the wedding shower and was matron of honor. Marie Lundquist was there.

“Oh, my gosh.  It was a gorgeous wedding,” Lundquist recalled. “Hal walked her down the aisle.”

And the day Kay was killed, investigators discovered Hal Wenal and a colleague had brought breakfast to Karen Scott, who was home recovering from surgery. And later, when Hal discovered Kay’s body, Scott was his first call.

Hal Wenal to investigator: She was destroyed because she and Kay were like very, very tight.  I mean, extremely close. 

Karen Scott can be seen on police surveillance tape at Kay’s funeral.

“You know, things change.  Back then, we thought she was a good source,” said Bishop.

“She would email me … wantin’ to be kept up on what was going on, you know,” said Insogna.

“All seemingly innocent that may not be,” said Bishop.

Documents show Scott had ongoing financial problems, but Hal Wenal was a generous boss.

“The money was great.  I don’t think she coulda made that kinda money elsewhere,” said Lundquist.

And she was ambitious.

“We looked into Karen. We looked into every other person at work-- who was closest to Kay, Hal, what they could gain if -- if Kay was outta the picture,” said Sgt. Richter.

According to a police report, Scott admitted to detectives that “with Kay’s death she possibly gained the opportunity to operate the company.” But she also “denied that she would have had any motivation to bring harm to Kay over those facts” and she described herself as “Kay’s best friend.”

“And when I heard that, I was like, ‘Really?’ I mean, that surprised me,” Kay’s sister and best friend, Pam Sleeper, said. “You know?  I know a best friend … And their relationship was not like my best friends.”

Some work colleagues also question how close they really were.

“Was Karen Scott close with Kay?” Moriarty asked contractor David Hughes.

“Absolutely. When Kay was around, she was -- wanted everybody to think she was Kay’s friend,” he replied.

“So it was more giving the appearance of that?” Moriarty asked.

“That’s my opinion,” said Hughes.

“They were not best friends.  Maybe to her face, but that’s not what she was saying behind Kay’s back,” said Lundquist.

“48 Hours” reached out to Karen Scott and she sent a letter, stating, “I lost my best friend to a brutal attack” -- but she declined our request for an interview.

Scott has been questioned by investigators about Kay Wenal’s death and according to police reports, she “adamantly denied any and all involvement…”

What’s more, police say cell phone records back Scott’s alibi – that she was home around the time of the murder. And Sgt. Richter says he’s unable to connect her to the letter.

“We investigated that thoroughly and quite frankly, we’re still investigating it.  But we can’t find anything to suggest that Karen was responsible for the letter or that … anybody in particular is responsible for that letter,” said Richter.

With an unknown assailant still on the loose, Pam Sleeper says her determination to find her sister’s killer comes with risks.

“I do walk around kinda scared sometimes.  I wonder if he’s gonna be after me next ‘cause I don’t give it up,” she said.

“You think because you keep her name alive and you keep this case alive, that somebody

might come after you?” Moriarty asked.

“Uh-huh,” Sleeper affirmed. “Yeah.” 

CAN YOU HELP SOLVE THIS CASE?

Pam Sleeper says after Kay’s murder, Hal Wenal was never the same.

“He called me every day.  He was just lost … He missed her so much,” she told Moriarty. “He would say, ‘Who? Why?’ … I was like, ‘I—I don’t know, Hal, that’s what we’re trying to find out.’”

Hal Wenal to investigator: I try to stay busy morning, noon, night.  I hate the mornings going to work ‘cause I know I’m coming home to that house at night.  …Weekends, I despise. 

Hal Wenal may have hated being in the house, but he refused to leave it.

“If your wife or significant other was murdered in that house, wouldn’t you  wanna get outta that house?” private  investigator Ned Timmons asked. “Do you wanna walk in the kitchen every day … and have this vision of all this blood and her lying there with her throat cut? You know, it just didn’t make sense.”

Still more perplexing to investigators was that Wenal kept the house exactly as it was the day Kay was killed: her sneakers next to the living room couch, her book open to the page she was reading, and drops of her blood on the staircase.

“It was never cleaned up,” private investigator Ned Timmons said of the Wenal home.

“Even when our team showed up months and months later, the house was -- exactly the way it was,” he continued.

“Which is very strange,” noted Kathleen Timmons.

“You think he’d have a cleaning crew come in and cleanse that place … but there was still the blood splatters [sic],” said Ned Timmons.

Hal Wenal to investigator: I want nothing more on God’s earth than to find the guy who did this. …and I’d give everything I have to get Kay’s killer. 

Even if it meant spending his fortune to do it.

“The Gwinnett County Police Department was having their financial difficulties,” Insogna explained. “So it was really a bad time for law enforcement.”

“As I remember, you guys were havin’ trouble gettin’ money for gas when I first got on this.  They -- they couldn’t run their cars.  They were that low on fuel,” said Ned Timmons.

“Is that part of the problem here, that they’re—” Moriarty asked.

“It’s a problem everywhere,” Bishop replied. “There was just no money there.  Again, another reason Hal contacted these folks, ‘cause they had so much more resources available to ‘em than we did.”

Ned Timmons says it was Hal Wenal who paid for much needed lab work to be done.

“I was dealing with a private laboratory weekly. And we sent a lotta fibers, we sent a lotta -- fluids for DNA sampling.  And Hal would have to approve every time,” Ned Timmons explained. “These samplings are $5,000, $6,000 a hit.”

“We had people in Las Vegas, we had … leads in California, we had leads all over the country,” he continued.

“I mean, it was costin’ him a lotta money,” said Insogna.

Wenal’s quest came to an abrupt end in 2010, after he died of a heart attack; his estate cut off the $250,000 reward money and fired his private investigators.   

“There were -- things that we wanted to do, other leads that we wanted to follow up on,” Insogna said. “And then all of a sudden, you know, the -- the executor says … ‘ You guys are all finished.’ … We weren’t happy about it; I’ll tell you that.”

“As FBI agents, we don’t ever wanna quit,” Ned Timmons stressed. “We never wanted to stop.  But we couldn’t afford to finance it ourselves.”

wenal-kay.jpg

Kay Wenal

Pam Sleeper

The current cold case detectives seem to have made no headway and their investigation appears stalled.

“This case, on the face of it, looks like it would be solvable,” Moriarty commented to Sgt. Richter. “Why is it still open?”

“Well, from the amount of time put into it and different the investigators involved, I -- I really don’t have an answer for that.  And that’s the most frustrating part.  And I think that’s probably why we’re here today is … that we’ll get someone’s attention.  And someone who knows somethin’ will call us,” he replied.

“I know there’s somebody out there that knows,” Sleeper said, “and I think they just need to come forward and let us know … it will just help so much.  We’d be so grateful.”

As they’ve done so many times, Pam Sleeper, her mother – and their husbands – made an emotional visit to Kay’s grave.

“If it was me, Kay would not give up, and I’m not gonna give up,” said Sleeper.

Investigators are asking for your help to solve Kay Wenal’s murder. 

WHAT WE KNOW

  • Kay was home in Lawrenceville, Ga., on May 1, 2008 when she was viciously attacked
  • Investigators believe her assailant was a right-handed man, wearing gloves, who used a very sharp weapon.
  • An unidentified man seen near the Wenal home the day of the murder may have been involved
  • And then, there’s the cut-and-paste letter sent nearly three months later 

“People who think they get away with murder sigh a big sigh of relief when years go by,” profiler Mary Ellen O’Toole said. “But this program is going to make them very nervous.”

HOW TO HELP

Anyone with information is asked to call:

·         Gwinnett County Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division Anonymous Tip line at 770-513-5390

·         Crime Stoppers Greater Atlanta: 404-577-TIPS (8477)